Children's Health and Wellness

Thrush

What is thrush?

Thrush is a yeast or fungal infection in the mouth and throat of babies. It often happens in babies younger than 5 months old. Thrush is usually caused by a type of yeast called Candida albicans. Babies can get thrush from their mothers, for example during delivery. The yeast is common in the everyday environment. It only causes a problem when it grows out of control. This can happen in warm, moist places.

What are the symptoms of thrush?

Thrush causes cracked skin in the corners of the mouth. It also causes white patches on the tongue, lips, and inside of the cheeks. The patches may look like milk. Some babies have no discomfort from thrush. Others may have pain and be fussy and refuse to feed. It may be painful for your child to swallow.

How is thrush diagnosed?

Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s medical history and do a physical exam. The exam will include looking in the mouth.

How is thrush treated?

Thrush is treated with liquid antifungal medicine given through a dropper in the baby’s mouth.

If you are breastfeeding a baby who has oral thrush, you may have a mild yeast infection of the nipples. You will need to be treated for this. This will prevent you from passing the thrush infection back to your baby. You may be given an ointment to apply to your skin, or an oral anti-fungal medicine.

It is also important to sterilize any pacifiers, bottle nipples, or toys that your baby may put in his or her mouth. This will prevent your baby from being reinfected.

Wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after taking care of your baby. This is to help avoid spreading the infection. 

Print Source: Candida infections in children: An overview. UpToDate
Print Source: Clinical manifestations of oropharyngeal and esophageal candidiasis. UpToDate
Print Source: Treatment of Candida infection in neonates. UpToDate
Online Source: Thrush and Other Candida Infections, American Academy of Pediatricshttps://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/infections/Pages/Thrush-and-Other-Candida-Infections.aspx
Online Editor: Geller, Arlene
Online Medical Reviewer: Adler, Liora C., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2016
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